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Mets, MLB invest in FirstStepNYC to enrich community

NEW YORK -- By the end of all the All-Star festivities, the Mets and MLB will have invested $5 million into the community.

The league and the host club of this year's Midsummer Classic have hopped around New York, reaching out and having an effect in communities throughout the city.

It all concluded on Tuesday, at PS 41 elementary school in Brooklyn, where the Mets, MLB and the city of New York unveiled a renovated outdoor space in the courtyard of the elementary school to be used by the students, grades K-8, and the FirstStepNYC program that will begin at the school in the fall.

"There is nothing more important to us than investing in the youth of our country," said Tim Brosnan, the executive vice president of business for MLB. "Again, we consider it a privilege to partner with the mayor and the Mets to help out this program."

Brosnan was joined on stage by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mets COO Jeff Wilpon as they officially unveiled the new-look courtyard and the establishment of the FirstStepNYC program that provides early childhood services for at-risk children ages 5 and younger. The new courtyard, which was constructed with the assistance of Magical Builders and Scotts Miracle-Gro, has a floor cushioned with a protected surface, a green area for gardening, space for science activities and a literacy corner.

The school's principal, Terri Siegel, beamed in the front row of the press conference as the upgrades to her school's facilities were announced. She sat between Sharon Robinson, daughter of legendary Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson, and former Mets catcher Barry Lyons, who were also on hand for the ceremony.

But as much as the ceremony celebrated this specific achievement, it celebrated the accomplishments of a week of hard work from the Mets and MLB. Mayor Bloomberg was the first to speak.

"It's a hot day," he began, "but it's also an exciting one."

He touched on the project at hand, but also discussed the importance of having the All-Star Game in New York.

"We always talk about these events to bring in tourism," he said, "but what about making sure that the people that live here and pay the taxes are happy?"

Those are people like Siegel and the students at PS 41. They are the living, breathing examples of what an event like the All-Star Game brings to New York. Yes, it gives outsiders a chance to see and experience New York, but it also sparks excitement for the locals, like the $300,000 donation made by the Mets and MLB on Tuesday.

Next was Wilpon, whose message was simple, but on a sweltering 90-degree day it was his goal: He got his point across in few words.

"Congratulations, principal," Wilpon said, addressing Siegel. "Use it well, and I hope the kids enjoy it."

The mayor was asked about how the weather would affect Tuesday's game for both the players and the fans, but he insisted it would not be an issue. He again urged fans to take public transportation, even with Monday's snafu on the 7 train -- he's taking it to the game himself.

But this was still a joyous occasion. He wasn't all business.

"I am not starting tonight," he said with a grin, "but I will be available if they need me."

He can joke now. His week finished with another successful event.

David Wilson is an associate reporter for
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